*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

How To Handle Traffic Tickets on Your Naturalization Application N-400

 

How To Handle Traffic Tickets On Your Naturalization Application N-400

When you’re applying for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen, how do you deal with traffic tickets? Let’s say you have a minor speeding ticket with no arrest, a parking ticket, or some other sort of motor vehicle citation. How do you handle that on the N-400?

Can you exclude that, or should you include documentation to show that you’ve paid all your fines? There are a few ways to address this.

I’m Josh Goldstein, an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles. I help people and families across the country and around the world get work visas, green cards, and yes, citizenship.

What Do You Do About Traffic Tickets?

Let me read to you what USCIS has to say on this topic. It’s straight from a community relations guide and says, “Typically, if an individual only has minor citations with no arrests resulting from, for example, a speeding ticket, they will not be required to submit any additional documentation or information with the N-400.”

“However, during the course of the interview, an adjudications officer may determine that there are circumstances that warrant further investigation. For example, the applicant may have failed to pay fines associated with the citations. In that case, the officers may request additional documentation, such as proof of payment or certified police or court records indicating payment.”

Two Ways To Handle Traffic Tickets

There’s a question on the N-400 that says, “Have you ever been arrested or cited or charged?” And if there were just minor traffic offenses, you’re well within your rights to say, “No,” and leave it at that.

On the other hand, if you want to be really diligent and make sure you’ve covered all your bases, you could say, “Yes.” You could disclose all of your traffic citations and would provide proof that you’ve paid all the fines and resolved everything in your favor.

The Gray Area

The problem is, if you just say, “No, I don’t have any arrests,” because they were just traffic citations, there might be some cases that fall into a gray area. A parking ticket is clearly a minor traffic citation that wouldn’t have to be disclosed.

However, what about driving without a license? That’s a motor vehicle issue. And in some states, it’s also a criminal offense, so you would have to disclose that.

Here’s What You Should Do

I think you can go either way on this, but my guidance would be to collect the paperwork to have proof that you’ve paid the fines or resolved everything. Then you can let the officer decide whether he or she thinks it’s relevant and wants to see the additional information.

You can’t go wrong by documenting things. But if it’s really a very minor traffic offense, you’d be okay documenting it, and you’d probably also be okay excluding it.

That’s my answer. I hope it’s helpful. If you need additional information or have questions, just let me know and I’ll do my best to help you out.

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September 30, 2019
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